Migrants essential for social, economic well-being of societies – UN senior official

20 June 2013

Governments should recognize the wide-range of benefits that migrants bring to their countries, a senior United Nations official said today, urging measures that support this vital segment of the population and which address the discrimination migrants often face.

“We have become effective at lowering the barriers to movements of goods, services and capital, but we have sadly and paradoxically done far less well in addressing cross-border movements of human beings,” said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, opening the International Forum on Migration and Peace in New York.

“Migrants provide vital support for the families, communities and countries they leave behind. For developing countries, their remittances are often an economic lifeline, but migrants are also essential for the well-being of the societies to which they venture,” Mr. Eliasson said. “They make significant contributions to the economic and social development of the places they go to.”

The two-day form, taking place at News York Law School, was organized by the Scalabrini International Migration Network, along with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in New York, the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN and the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS).

During the forum, members of the private and public sector will discuss topics such as human insecurity and international migration governance, and will focus on creating a dialogue on migration issues.

Mr. Eliasson said the discussions should recognize the benefits that migrants bring to societies and seek to find ways to overcome stereotyping and scapegoating.

“Our task is to identify concrete measures that will help us reduce the costs of transferring remittances, ensure support for vulnerable migrants and, not least, stamp out discrimination and abuse,” he said.

In October, the General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting on international migration and development, and Mr. Eliasson said it should help to place migration more firmly in the global post-2015 development agenda as it is a powerful tool to improve the lives of millions of families.

“Migration is a complex and sometimes controversial subject in the public debate and discourse. But I believe we can rise above the noise, find common ground and promote the realization that migration is a critical catalyst for development in a globalized world,” he concluded.


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